Church-State 'working relationship' needs to be made more public, Archbishop says

The Church may not agree with everything the government does but it is free to perform its mission, Archbishop Charles Scicluna tells Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

Joseph Muscat took his greetings to the Archbishop
Joseph Muscat took his greetings to the Archbishop

Church and State collaboration on various initiatives was more than just a symbolic act, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said as he led a Cabinet delegation to exchange greetings with Archbishop Charles Scicluna at the archbihsop's palace in Valletta.

Earlier, both the Prime Minister and the archbishop met President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca at the Palace, just up the road.

Muscat said it was more often the case that the government and the church worked together despite what the media reported. He referred to an agreement signed last week between the government and Caritas for the financing of a drug rehabilitation centre for minors.

He said the Church and the state worked together everyday. "The public yearns for [this relationship], and we shall be taking heed of this message," Muscat said.

Scicluna said the church appreciated the State's support. "There is a working relationship [between church and state] which needs to be appreciated and be made more public."

Scicluna said the government was promoting economic progress and this brought with it big responsibilities, so that no one was left behind. 

"We appreciate the support that we receive, so that we can be a presence which promotes the common good. Part of the common good is religious freedom and we wish to thank the government as we feel free to do our mission even if we don't agree on everything, we know that we have liberty," Scicluna said.

The archbishop said that one thing the country needed to work on was greater respect to one another. 

Scicluna then presented the Prime Minister with a gift - a replica of Antonio Sciortino's Christ the King - which prompted a nervous smile from Muscat, who laughed off the fact that he did not have anything to give in return.

It is not customary for dignitaries to exchange gifts in these occasions.

In a statement issued later in the day, the Curia said the replica of Sciortino’s work - which was commissioned in 1913 to mark the International Eucharistic Congress which was held in Malta that year – was being presented to “state authorities” on the first centenary from the inauguration of the statue back in 1917.

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